Moran pushes DHS on NBAF funding

By The Mercury

The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security told Sen. Jerry Moran this week that she would try to set up a meeting “within the next few days” to put in motion the process for signing a deal leading to release of $40 million to begin construction of the NBAF here.

At the same time, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano made it clear that the price of such an agreement was the state’s willingness to pick up a larger share of the project’s cost down the road.

“I think it is time that we begin moving forward with the land exchange and the (central utility plant), Napolitano told Moran during a Senate hearing on the question. But before doing so, she added, “I hope to host a meeting with the Kansas delegation and perhaps the governor to talk about out-year funding and cost shares and some of the things that Kansas has mentioned they are willing to contemplate.”

Moran pressed Napolitano on the matter during a meeting of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, of which he is a member. He told the Secretary that contracts for the work will be expiring within the next few weeks, and would have to be rebid if the money is not freed up soon. That process, he said, would create further delays. “When you say the time is now, it’s not a matter of many months. It’s a matter of a few weeks before this needs to happen,” he said.

Napolitano agreed with Moran that construction of the NBAF was necessary, and also agreed that “it’s time to fish or cut bait” on construction. But she did not commit to releasing the $40 million in budgeted funds on any particular time schedule.

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